ice hockey

'Everybody's tired' as condensed NHL schedule takes its toll

3 Comments
By STEPHEN WHYNO

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The big question is what happens when a team from the Canadian division has to face a US team with the border closed. The govt will have to make some sort of exception. For a while Canadians didn’t want US people to come in. Now it may be the opposite with the US way ahead on vaccines. What a mess.

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I went to see a fight last night...and suddenly, an ice hockey game broke out!

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What a mess.

It really isn't. There are certain difficulties that have been and will need to be dealt with. Overall, the quality of play has been excellent, and it's been exciting, in spite of some limitations.

As far as the Northern Division teams playing in the USA, they're actually lucky they're going to have 4 playoff teams playing in Canada before one of them gets a place in the final four. The Canadian teams are visibly weaker than the teams from the 3 divisions in the USA.

If the divisions were as normal, I think maybe one or two, at most, would make the playoffs and real doubt any of them would have made a conference final. Certainly if it was a regular season playing a normal schedule, it would be doubtful any team would be a top four favorite to go to the finals. I believe Toronto is the fourth favorite right now, but it's because there is little competition to win the Northern division as they are the only team in a division who are clearly dominant.

At present the Leafs would be 7th in overall standings, but are first in their division with the largest point separation between second and third place teams compared to the USA one's. If they had to compete against all the top teams, they'd likely be 10-16th in the overall standings, and maybe miss the playoffs, entirely.

As with the Blue Jays and the Raptors, the team that makes the final four will likely be required to base in the United States for their games, but in that context, the last Stanley Cup playoffs were played in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto and the USA based teams were required to live in those bubbles, so there are obstacles to overcome due to the pandemic.

The upcoming playoffs will be a disadvantage to any Canadian team, but they have to just deal with it. It is the Canadian quarantine laws which is why they must relocate in the states to play. COVID means requiring flexibility to get through, and unfortunately, there are difficulties, but the hockey's been great, and it isn't a mess.

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